trial by fire

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

James 1:2-6 NIV

I once heard a sermon preached on this passage that stressed the importance of understanding the difference between trials and temptations. Temptations…those, we run from. But trials, we run through.

Today, I want to talk about trials. I want to talk about this: I know what God’s word says about trials…but why can’t I surrender to God’s perspective?

Many of us have heard this passage in passing. We know what it says. But in order to progress, we need to not merely listen to the word, and so deceive ourselves – we must do what it says.What action steps does this passage direct us to take?

First things first:

1. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

Pure joy? What is that?

It’s the sweet-smelling smoke emanating from a refining fire. It’s a nourishing meal cooked by the heat. It’s the warmth felt from the flames.

The Expositor’s Greek Testament elaborates: “The writer is not to be understood as meaning that these trials are joyful in themselves, but that as a means to beneficial results they are to be rejoiced in.”

Plainly, beneficial results that bring tomorrow’s joy can only come through the trials of today. We must consider them in this way – and thus, rejoice. What is one of those results? “…because you know that the testing of your faith producesperseverance.”

Just as only the blood of Jesus can bring redemption, only the Lord our God can produce perseverance through a test of faith. We know this about our God.

We also know that we need perseverance. We need it. Jesus said it himself: “In this world, you will have tribulation.” How could we ever stand against inevitable tribulation without perseverance?

Furthermore, this perseverance is bred, not born. We have a part to play. James teaches us:

2. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” 

To let perseverance finish its work means to stop opposing it. Let it happen. Let the Lord carry you through tonight, and tomorrow night, and tomorrow’s tomorrow night. Let Him dry your tears. Let Him strengthen you. Let Him pray through you. Let Him help you rest. Let Him.

We often pray, “Lord, let your will be done,” without actually letting Him do what He wants to do. Let perseverance finish its work. Get out of the way.

Now, it gets good:

3. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

What does this have anything to do with the trial?

We cannot consider our trials as pure joy without God’s wisdom.

Are you stuck in a victim mindset? Are you bound by bitterness? Ask the Lord for wisdom. He will give it to you.

4. “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

We must ask from a place of confidence in the goodness of our God. We must echo the prayer of the distressed father in Mark 9, pleading with Christ to deliver his demon-possessed son, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Do you need God’s wisdom to illuminate your trials as the things that will one day bring pure joy?

Let’s go before the Father now.

Father, thank you for this word. Thank you for Your word that cuts between bone and marrow – for Your word that never fails, that never returns void. We commit ourselves entirely to what You say. We ask for more Heavenly wisdom – give us more, give us more, give us more. You give it generously to all. Let us begin to consider our trials as pure joy. Help us to let perseverance finish its work, that we may be mature and complete. Let our faith grow stronger and stronger as we trust in You. We love you. In Jesus’ name, AMEN! 

 

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